It’s easy to have a mission. Some business owners spend a lot of time and effort writing up mission statements, value statements, vision statements. So, why can it be so difficult for some business owners to engage their company mission with their employees or clients?
The problem is that values and mission statements are just that: statements. They don’t leave the wall you put them on until your team is emotionally engaged in the mission. And if your mission takes a back seat to making money, it’s all too easy for them to be forgotten or ignored. When push comes to shove, your mission gets shoved.
Your business doesn’t need a mission as much as it needs loyal customers. Customer loyalty is a direct result of an emotionally engaged team. For that to happen, you need an all-encompassing cause that will motivate your team. In a cause-driven business, every step that is taken, from the decisions in the office to actions in the field, serves to support that central cause.
A cause-driven business is outwardly motivated. The goals it sets for itself are designed to help other people, to meaningfully improve the lives of others. Taking this stance requires a servant leadership mentality, an approach that supports others to do their best work rather than trying to control the business by solely focusing on the numbers.
It may even mean putting money aside at times, focusing exclusively on the customer experience instead. This isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that provides many rewards with real benefits for you and your employees.
In 2016, we changed the way our company did business. Our clients, some of them generations-old, were struggling to compete against Amazon and Google. They were threatened, and some were nearing a collapse. It simply wasn’t possible for them to match the low price and convenience these juggernauts were offering.
We understood the only way these companies would survive was to help them provide a better selling experience — not to go lower in price, but to go higher and provide better customer experiences that the rest could only dream about. We incorporated some of the great advice we were giving businesses into our personal lives as well, and the result is well articulated in my second book, “Patterned After Excellence.”
That was our cause: to help business owners shift their mindset from competing on price, where they didn’t stand a chance, to competing on the quality of their interactions with each and every customer they serve. We gave them the tools and training they need to deliver something truly special, and the mindset to tackle personal challenges with the same ideas and strategies.
Once we found that cause and really focused on achieving it, we experienced greater success than we ever had before. My business partners and I agreed that becoming a cause-driven business was the only way forward for us and our clients, and we never looked back.
There are three steps to becoming a cause-driven business. The process requires investment in your company beyond just financial incentives, and a buy-in from everyone on the ladder. It will take time and long-term engagement, but will pay in motivated employees, cheerleading customers and a true vision that will provide a clear roadmap for the future of your company.
Of course, the first step in becoming a cause-driven company is finding that cause to rally around. The best thing you can do is take a step back from everything and look at the company as a whole.
Talk to your employees and find out what motivates them to do what they do every day. Understand what’s important for you as well and think about why you started the business originally. Don’t discount a simple answer, sometimes even just dedicating yourself to helping others is enough.
Find the cause, articulate it on paper and refer to it as often as you can with everyone on your team. Encourage them to do the same.
There is nothing wrong with values statements. But instead of just a bunch of words on paper, your business should have lived values, adhered to by everyone who works with you.
The values should be evident in everything you do, from the way people act in the office to every interaction with a customer on the phone or on a job.
Employees will value what you value. If your sole concern is money, your employees will value that, too — above all else. They’ll be more inclined to drop what they’re doing and leave if they don’t feel like they’re getting enough of it, because it’s the only reason they come to work.
Why? Perhaps because they feel you value you most. They will value what you value because you are their leader.
Your company’s values should be things you value, and they should be real enough to make an impact. They should include your customers, rather than your profits. They should include the way you work with your employees, to ensure they are provided for and have pathways to grow in the business.
Overall, values should be something that can drive your company forward, not just financially, but in a way that provides happiness and fulfillment for others, too.
Finally, your cause has to be something you teach by example. It has to be something you can do even when you’re not on the clock. It needs to be something you’re confident in, and capable of upholding above all else.
Over time, others in your circle will come to share this goal. Motivating your employees to deliver on your cause is crucial to developing a business that’s truly cause-driven. A strong enough cause, and a strong leader behind it, will attract high-quality employees and develop real, meaningful interactions with customers.
Soon, you’ll see how your team has become powerfully engaged in their work that will WOW more customers!
The most important part of developing a cause-driven business is on your shoulders. Ultimately, this process starts and ends with you. If you don’t set out to consciously embody your cause every day, you won’t receive the benefit.
Human tendency can prevent us from living our cause every day. We can shrink from challenges that we face and moments we encounter. We can be tempted by old habits, weaknesses and vices that prevent us from becoming stronger leaders.
Shedding these, and moving toward a life driven by your cause, is a process that will take time and effort to achieve, but the results will only reinforce your determination.
Ultimately, a cause-driven business, or a cause-driven life for that matter, cannot be faked. There are no shortcuts, only an unwavering commitment to the things and people you value most. Only when you start honing in on your purpose and principles can you truly start winning moments and pushing your business toward a greater cause.
Knowing the difference between confidence and ego will go a long way toward employee retention.
Get past the fear of failure that may be holding you and your business back.
Include your employees in your vision and create a cause-driven business.
The person at the top must inspire and guide the organization in the right direction.
A well-thought-out cause marketing program can affect several key areas of your business: brand differentiation, employee recruiting and retention, community networking, and positive public relations.